County launches non-lethal predator and animal damage control program

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Agricultural and Wildlife Protection Program (AWPP) is a new program being piloted by Benton County during the 2017-2019 biennium.

“For the first time in the county's history, the Budget Committee determined in addition to funding lethal control measures that they will fund non-lethal predator and animal damage control to foster the coexistence of agriculture and wildlife in Benton County,” said Laurie Starha, Director of the Natural Areas and Parks Department. “The County sought partners and subject matter experts in our community to create a pilot program that funds a merit-based, cost share, reimbursement grant program plus educational outreach and consultation services.”

Agricultural operations in Benton County that wish to prevent conflicts with wildlife may qualify for up to $5,000 in reimbursement grant funds for the purchase of proactive non-lethal wildlife deterrents to protect livestock and crops.

Grant applications are available online at co.benton.or.us/awpp. The application period opens February 1, 2018 and closes April 15, 2018. Grants will be awarded April 30, 2018.

The program is managed by Benton County in partnership with an advisory committee comprised of citizen volunteers, and representatives from Oregon State University Extension Service and Chintimini Wildlife Center.

“We hope to create a model program for other counties in Oregon and around the nation,” said Randy Comeleo, chair of the Agricultural and Wildlife Protection Program committee. “As part of our granting program, grant recipients will need to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of their non-lethal deterrents. As far as I know, the AWPP is the only county animal damage control program collecting detailed information from grant recipients on the effectiveness of different non-lethal methods and tools. This data will provide important information to help the County determine whether this program will move beyond a pilot phase, and to inform other prospective county programs.”

The AWPP will be hosting an information table at the upcoming Oregon Small Farms Conference on February 24, 2018 at the LaSells Stewart Center in Corvallis, and a “Farming with Wildlife Workshop: Wildlife Friendly Methods to Reduce Conflicts” on March 17, 2018 at the Walnut Community Meeting Room in Corvallis.

Learn more about the AWPP, and find information about the grant program and upcoming events at co.benton.or.us/awpp.